When thinking of rubs and spices to use with Smart Chicken, chocolate almost surely isn’t what you think of. But famed confectioner Michael Recchiuti will change your mind with this unusual—but very tasty—dish. Against all expectations, the combination of chocolate, pepper, and chicken somehow works. And the result is out of this world.
- 4 boneless-skinless Smart Chicken breasts
- 1 cup cocoa nibs*, chopped or ground to coarse texture
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon grated unsweetened chocolate
- 1 cup white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups coarsely chopped fennel
- 1/2 cup cocoa nibs
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Rinse chicken under cold water, then pat dry using a paper towel. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
While chicken is reaching room temperature, combine 1 cup of ground cocoa nibs and butter to make a paste. Using a spoon, spread cocoa paste onto one side of each piece of chicken. Allow about 5 to 10 minutes for the paste on the chicken to firm up before searing.
Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to a boil in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
Place a heavy duty skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. (Make sure exhaust fan is on.) Carefully place chicken, cocoa nib-side down in preheated pan. Allow to sear for 2 to 3 minutes. Surface will start to smoke and butter will brown. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a baking tray, cocoa-side up. Allow the chicken to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. While the chicken is resting, start preparing the cocoa nib sauce.
Add white wine to the hot skillet and simmer for one minute. Pour the simmering white wine into the boiling chicken stock, and add salt, pepper, fennel and coca nibs. Continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
While the sauce is reducing, place chicken in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165°F.
When the sauce has reduced by half, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove all particles.
Slice the roasted chicken on a bias, arrange breasts on a warmed serving platter, and pour sauce over chicken. Grate chocolate over chicken and serve with a variety of sides, oven-roasted vegetables, or fresh pasta.
*Cocoa nibs are shelled and roasted cocoa beans that have been ground or broken up into small pieces.